Tag: sweet laurel

Pumpkin Cheesecake \\ Sweet Laurel

Dairy-free dreams come true with this cheesecake. My husband Nick is a cheesecake guy. It is his favorite dessert, and if he is craving a really special treat, cheesecake is usually at the top of his list. When we changed our lifestyle to be grain-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free, I needed to figure out an alternative to the classic dessert, and one that Nick would love just as much as the dairy and sugar full version. After lots of testing, I came up with this recipe. And as a little teaser, the Sweet Laurel Cookbook has a delicious version of this recipe, Creamy Cheesecake, which I’m excited to share with you when it comes out April 3. But for now, here’s my pumpkin spice and everything nice version!

DSC_7365

DSC_7349

DSC_7395

DSC_7356

Yields 1 Cheesecake


To make the crust:


Ingredients:

2 cups pecans or almonds, or nut flour

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

Prepare a springform pan by lining the base with parchment paper and greasing the sides with coconut oil.

In a food processor, blend the nuts, maple syrup, coconut oil and Himalayan pink salt. Press into the base of a springform pan. Bake 10 minutes. Allow to cool while you prepare your filling.


To make the cheesecake filling:


Ingredients:

1 cup coconut yogurt

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 tablespoons date paste, or 3 pitted dates

3/4 cup pumpkin

2 eggs

2 tablespoons arrowroot powder

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg


Directions:

In a blender, pulse the coconut yogurt, maple syrup, pumpkin, and date paste together until mixture is congealed. Pour into a bowl, and beat coconut yogurt mixture with eggs using a hand whisk or stand mixer. Slowly add arrowroot powder, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and spices. Mix until batter is well incorporated.

Pour into cooled pie crust and bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

SaveSave

Best Sweet Potato Fries Ever \\ Sweet Laurel

I tricked Nick with these fries. He used to think sweet potatoes were one the nastiest things ever (can you imagine?). Now these fries are his side of choice. A few years into our marriage and I had enough with the anti-sweet potato antics. I decided to make a batch of fries using white sweet potatoes, which look almost identical to regular potatoes and see if he’d notice a difference. Is that mean? Well, see if you can tell the difference. Bake these up and you’ll see (and taste) why!

Best Sweet Potato Fries Ever \\ Sweet Laurel

Best Sweet Potato Fries Ever \\ Sweet Laurel

Best Sweet Potato Fries Ever \\ Sweet Laurel

Best Sweet Potato Fries Ever \\ Sweet Laurel

Yields 4 servings


 

Ingredients:

4 pounds sweet potatoes (I use the white ‘Hannah’ or ‘Japanese’ sweet potatoes)

1/4 cup coconut oil (melted) or avocado oil

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 -2 tablespoons Bragg Organic Sprinkle Seasoning or Italian Seasoning (blend of oregano, basil, thyme, sage, rosemary and marjoram)

1 -2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon Himalayan pink salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper


 

Directions:

Preheat oven 420 convection.

Prepare a cookie sheet by lining it with parchment paper. This makes for an easy clean up!

Wash sweet potatoes and cut in half, then cut into strips.

Place fries in bowl with remaining ingredients and toss to coat. Put cut potatoes on prepared cookie sheet.

Bake at 425 convection for 40 minutes. Halfway through baking, scrap from pan with spatula and continue to bake.

After 40 minutes, remove from oven and enjoy!

***You can prep a day or two before, place the marinated fries in a sealed container, and bake 40 minutes before you plan to serve.

Baby’s First Bone Broth \\ Sweet Laurel

I’ve been doing lots of research over the past few months in order to prepare for Nico’s transition into eating solid food. Nico is still about 98% breastmilk fed. He hasn’t been super into solids, but to me, that’s ok because I love nursing him! I’ve read a few books on the topic and consulted with my nutritionist, Margaret Floyd. I love her approach as it is filled with nutrient-dense, real food and also very practical. Margaret maneuvered through my autoimmune disease and has successfully helped me with the daunting task of introducing my Nico to solid foods

One of the first foods she recommends is bone broth. Bone broth, considered around the world as a health tonic, has been used for centuries as a healing food. As real food expert Nina Planck has stated, “it is digestible, nutritious and tasty. Broth is perfect for babies (Real Food for Mother and Babies, 2009).”

I adapted this recipe from my nutritionist Margaret’s original recipe. Margaret wrote her basic approach to introducing solid food here, and why bone broth is a great choice for babies!  Read up on it, and then cook up a pot of bone broth for you or baby!

Baby's First Bone Broth \\ Sweet Laurel

Baby's First Bone Broth \\ Sweet Laurel

Baby's First Bone Broth \\ Sweet Laurel

Baby's First Bone Broth \\ Sweet Laurel

Baby’s First Bone Broth


 

Ingredients:

chicken bones, including the ligaments and joints (be sure to use bones from organic, pastured raised chickens)

1-2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

pinch of Himalayan pink salt

filtered water


 

Directions:

Put the bones, vinegar, and salt into the stock pot. Cover with filtered water.

Bring to a boil and skim any foam off the top. The foam is just any impurities coming out of the bones. Sometimes it’s there, sometimes it isn’t.

Reduce the heat on your stove to the lowest possible and gently simmer your broth for at least 8 hours, up to 48 hours. The rule of thumb is the bigger the bones, the longer you need to simmer your broth. Make sure not to cook the broth at too high a temperature! It will denature some of the proteins and create natural MSG. We put the stove at the lowest temperature and just leave it for a couple of days.Strain out the bones and veggies, and either use

Strain out the bones and veggies, then either use immediately or store in a big glass jar in your fridge. It can last for a week.

Dairy Free Tzatziki and Grain Free Crackers \\ Sweet Laurel

This Greek girl cannot get enough Tzatziki! The creamy, cucumber and dill sauce goes with everything, seriously. Whether it is grilled veggies, salad, or kebabs, the list goes on. I first started to make my own Tzatziki for my husband, who has been dairy free since childhood. This is the version I make for my him, and nearly every family gathering. Enjoy this recipe, and do me a favor: Chop up some bell peppers or celery and dip them into your Tzatziki for a snack. You will fall in love instantly!

Dairy Free Tzatziki and Grain Free Crackers \\ Sweet Laurel

Dairy Free Tzatziki and Grain Free Crackers \\ Sweet Laurel

Dairy Free Tzatziki and Grain Free Crackers \\ Sweet Laurel

Dairy Free Tzatziki and Grain Free Crackers \\ Sweet Laurel

Dairy Free Tzatziki

Yields about 2 cups


 

Ingredients:

2 cups unflavored yogurt (I always use a clean, unsweetened store-bought version or I make my own coconut yogurt. You can also use goat or sheep’s milk yogurt if you tolerate it) 

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 cup dill, chopped

1 cucumber, shredded

1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt

1 lemon, squeezed

1/4 cup olive oil

Cracked pepper to taste


 

Directions:

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and chill for about an hour. Enjoy with veggies or my favorite grain-free crackers from Simple Mills! Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Note about the crackers: These are seriously so good, so good that they were in my hospital bag when I gave birth to sweet Nico! I love that they are made with sprouted seeds, making it easier for digestion. The original flavor is my favorite, but they’re all super yummy.

Baby Beautycounter \\ Sweet Laurel

Beautycounter is my go-to for all things safe beauty. I don’t wear a ton of make up, but when I do, everything I wear is from Beautycounter.  I am happy to say Beautycounter is a company we’ve worked with regularly at Sweet Laurel. They have partnered with us at events, hosted workshops with us and shared our recipes!

I trust their products, and can confidently wear them without worrying about toxic chemicals seeping through my pores. Recently, I’ve re-thought everything I put on my face and body because I’ve been pregnant and breastfeeding for the past year. Make up and beauty products tend to have ingredients that are highly toxic, and unfortunately the United States does not monitor what companies put into their products. For example, the European Union has banned 1,400 chemicals from use in beauty products. That means beauty and make up products are far safer in Europe then in America! Fortunately, Beautycounter has come to the scene here in the states. Their goal is to create beauty products that are safe to use, sans chemicals, with high quality, long lasting appeal. As you can see, I love Beautycounter and what they stand for.

I was overjoyed last year when I discovered Beautycounter launched a baby line! I got my hands on a couple of their products, and have already used them on Nico! Nico has sensitive skin, so I’m super careful with what I use for soap, lotion, etc. Fortunately, the products have worked great for Nico, and we both love using them!

Baby Beautycounter \\ Sweet Laurel

Baby Beautycounter \\ Sweet Laurel

Baby Beautycounter \\ Sweet Laurel

Baby Beautycounter \\ Sweet Laurel

I highly recommend the diaper rash cream and gentle all over wash. They also have this roomy diaper bag! I don’t know about you, but for me, I always need more room in my diaper bag. This one sure does the trick!

Something else I love about Beautycounter is how spot on their packaging is. Always simple, chic and beautiful. They nailed it! I hope you are able to get your hands on Beautycounter soon! I know you (and your baby) will be glad you did. xo, Laurel

What’s In My Fridge \\ Sweet Laurel

I love this interview I did with The Chalkboard Mag! They took a look in my fridge and I got to share a little about my love of all things Sweet Laurel! One thing that’s apparent here, is that I’m a veggie lover! Yes, I know Sweet Laurel is all about sweets, but let me introduce you to savory Laurel! I sure eat my fair share of veggies. If you have any questions about some of my go – to’s, leave them in the comments! xo, Laurel

What's In My Fridge \\ Sweet Laurel

What's In My Fridge \\ Sweet Laurel

What's In My Fridge \\ Sweet Laurel

What's In My Fridge \\ Sweet Laurel

FOOD PHILOSOPHY IN ONE SENTENCE:

Eat wholesome yet delicious food every day.


 

ALWAYS IN MY FRIDGE:

Kale, coconut, chocolate, and crudité.


 

7 RECIPE STAPLES ALWAYS ON HAND:

For my recipes, pretty much any of them can be made if you have almond flour, coconut oil, Himalayan pink salt, 100% maple syrup, organic eggs, coconut milk, and cacao.


 

MUST-HAVE MUNCHIES:

I am into accessible veggies: half an avocado, cut up celery, cucumber, carrots and cooked sweet potatoes. I am not a big snacker, but I am a big vegetable eater!


 

FAVE CONDIMENTS:

Our all-time favorite condiment is Sweet Laurel vegan caramel! Other condiments on the savory side I enjoy are Primal Kitchen Foods mayo and Kerrygold butter. Yes, butter. I developed a strong craving for it during my pregnancy, and I’ve been tolerating it well, so I enjoy it in moderation.


 

INGREDIENT THAT MAKES EVERYTHING TASTE BETTER:

When I cook, I love to use some delicious savory staples like garlic, Himalayan pink salt, apple cider vinegar and fun things like cayenne pepper. When I bake, a balance of moisture enriching, yet nutrient-dense ingredients make everything taste better. I work with five core ingredients at Sweet Laurel: almond flour, coconut oil, 100% maple syrup, organic eggs, and Himalayan pink salt. These are my star ingredients and the secret to a delicious grain-free, refined sugar-free and dairy-free treat that tastes delicious!


 

GO-TO PROTEINS:

Organic eggs, wild-caught fish, organic chicken, turkey, and beef.


 

BEST BARGAIN:

I buy in bulk whenever I can through health food stores and co-ops. This is great for spices, organic nuts and other frequently used items and pricier items.


 

BEST LABEL-READING TIP:

I always check for whole-food ingredients. If the foods originate from earth and are used in their natural form, I’m good with them.


 

FAVE VEGGIE + WHAT YOU MAKE WITH IT:

This changes, but currently I’m obsessed with making kale chips in the oven. It takes just a few minutes, and my salty, crunchy craving is usually taken care of shortly thereafter.


 

MUST-HAVE PANTRY STAPLES:

Sweet Laurel vanilla extract. We make our own, grain- and gluten-free, with tequila!


 

CRAZIEST THING I BUY:

The $30 coconut yogurt. Jam packed with probiotics, a little goes a long way. I’m definitely addicted.


 

SWEETS AND OTHER INDULGENCES:

I indulge in 100% cacao from Chocovivo every day. It is not a sweet per se, but an indulgence for sure. Made from cacao beans and stone ground into chocolate right here in Los Angeles.


 

DAIRY OR NON-DAIRY FAVES:

Like I said, hooked on coconut yogurt.


 

SKIP LABELS THAT READ:

‘High-fructose corn syrup,’ ‘cane sugar,’ etc.


 

FAVORITE SPLURGE:

I love supporting small food businesses. From time to time I will go to natural food stores and just pick up a few random food products, just to try them out!


 

FOR LAST MINUTE ENTERTAINING:

I whip up my snickerdoodles! Just five ingredients and delicious.


 

FAVORITE PLACES TO SHOP:

Erewhon Natural Foods, Rainbow Acres.


 

SIMPLE GO-TO RECIPE:

My brownies. Topped with our vegan caramel, you’re instantly in dessert heaven.


 

BEST FOOD MEMORY:

Making banana bread with my mom when I was five or six. I remember tasting the batter and being instantly hooked!

 

(Photo credit: Elsie Dardon)

Avocado Toast 6 ways \\ Sweet Laurel

It’s almost silly to have a series of recipes dedicated to Avocado Toast. It’s so pervasive out here. It’s on every cafe menu, pops up on everyone’s social media, it’s practically omnipotent. Simple things hardly ever go out of style, and avocado toast is equivalent to a little black dress. Always the right decision. We suggest making your toast on top of our grain-free Turmeric Bread, however, any bread will work just fine.

When something is so simple, you can get playful with the flavor combinations. Below are some of our favorites.

DSC_5246

Avocado Toast 6 Ways \\ Sweet Laurel

Avocado Toast 6 Ways \\ Sweet Laurel

Avocado Toast 6 Ways \\ Sweet Laurel

Avocado Toast 6 Ways \\ Sweet Laurel

Avocado Toast 6 Ways \\ Sweet Laurel

Avocado Toast 6 Ways


 

The Classic


 

Ingredients:

1 half-inch slice grain-free bread, toasted

1/3 avocado, smashed

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 pinch dried chili flakes

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

Smash the avocado with the lemon juice, and spread over the toast. Top with a bit of chili flake, salt, and pepper.


 

Thai Inspired


 

Ingredients:

1 half-inch slice grain-free bread, toasted

1/3 avocado, sliced

1 tablespoon coconut cream

1 tablespoon cilantro leaves

1 pinch cayenne

1 teaspoon lime juice

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

Place the avocado on the toast, and drizzle with coconut cream. Top with cilantro and cayenne, and finish with a bit of lime juice. Finish with salt and pepper.


 

Breakfast


 

Ingredients:

1 half-inch slice grain-free bread, toasted

1/3 avocado, sliced

1 egg

1 teaspoon finely chopped chives

1 teaspoon olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

For a perfectly hard boiled egg, place an egg in a small pot of room temperature water over medium heat. Once the water is boiling, turn it off, and let the egg sit in it for 8 minutes, less time for a slightly looser yolk. Remove the egg with a slotted spoon and run with cold water until you can handle it. Peel the egg and slice.

Place the avocado on the toast, top with sliced egg and finish with chives, salt, and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil.


 

The Purist


 

Ingredients:

1 half-inch slice grain-free bread, toasted

1/3 avocado, sliced

1 slice of heirloom tomato

1 teaspoon hot sauce

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

Place the avocado on the toast, top with tomato, and drizzle with hot sauce. Finish with salt and pepper.


 

The Fattoush


 

Ingredients:

1 half-inch slice grain-free bread, toasted

1/3 avocado, chunked

1 tablespoon tahini

1 radish, thinly sliced

2 slices cucumber

1 teaspoon dill

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

Spread the toast with tahini. Place the avocado on the toast, and drizzle with lemon juice. Top with cucumber and radish, and finish with a bit of dill. Finish with salt and pepper.


 

The Nori


 

Ingredients:

1 half-inch slice grain-free bread, toasted

1/3 avocado, sliced

1 tablespoon nori, chiffonade

1 pinch black sesame seeds

1 tablespoon mint, chiffonade

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

Place the avocado on the toast. Top with nori, sesame seeds, and mint, and finish with salt and pepper.

Breastfeeding Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

Breastfeeding is one of the best parts of this new chapter of life with Nico. There are so many things that go into having a baby, giving birth to a baby and recovering from having a baby. For me, breastfeeding was an instant comfort, and gave me stamina, and empowered me as a mother. After the trials and triumphs of pregnancy and birth, it’s one of those little kisses from heaven, I like to say.  Having the time to just sit and do nothing but feed your baby and look at him, watch him eat, cuddle with him or take a little nap with him all quickly become a great joy.

IMG_6429

Learning how to breastfeed is the hard part. It took a while for me to learn how to properly latch Nico, burp him, hold him and how to make sure he ate enough. I am really grateful I had some awesome lactation consultants at Cedar Sinai hospital, where I gave birth. Even on day one, Jessica, my lactation consultant, visited me regularly and walked me through the ins and outs of properly feeding my baby.

Something I’ve learned as a new mom is to ask for help. I used to be one of those people who tried to muscle through everything on my own, never asking others to alleviate my burdens. Now that I’m a mom, I literally have to ask for help!  Breastfeeding was a totally new experience for me, and quickly saw I’d need to seek help from others. Using lactation consultants is an absolute must! Even after I was discharged from the hospital, I still needed a bit of help, and thankfully was referred to the Pump Station in Santa Monica. There I was coached by Jessica (yes, same name as my first lactation consultant), and she truly empowered me in my capabilities as a breastfeeding mother. Jessica really helped me feel like successfully breast-feeding Nico during his first year (and hopefully second year) is something natural and attainable.

I saw the results of breastfeeding not only with Nico’s body, but my own. Every inch of Nico’s growth was due to breastmilk. It is kind of a crazy concept! By the end of Nico’s second week, he gained two full pounds! He was ‘filling in’ by the day.  I thought he smelled like butter, and funny enough, I craved grass fed butter postpartum like crazy! I will talk more about my diet while breastfeeding in another post ;).

IMG_6420

Personally, there were lots of changes in my body as well when I started breast-feeding. To my surprise, my arms were sore for weeks after having Nico. I had always considered myself to have somewhat strong arms. I mean, after all I am a baker.  I did not expect that holding him and nursing him would take a toll on my thumbs of all things! Yes, my thumbs. You see, your thumbs bare the brunt of most of the mommy work…. holding baby’s head while nursing, picking him up out of his crib, pushing the stroller, and this list goes on! Thankfully, I worked with Alison Oswald for most of my postpartum physical therapy, and she helped me with my thumb also. It is actually called mommy thumb. The thumb tends to get overworked from just being a mom. Picking up your baby, pushing the stroller, changing diapers… it’s a lot of and work. As a baker, I use my hands every day as well, so there was already significant wear and tear. Allison taped my thumbs to encourage more circulation, and instantly they felt relief. She also encouraged my to use the ‘thumbs forward’ approach to picking up Nico, pushing the stroller and holding the steering wheel. I can honestly say these techniques, coupled with the taping helped immensely!

Yes, breastfeeding takes lots of time. But it is precious time. Breastfeeding also takes a ton of commitment. Often plans and outings are determined by the last time the baby ate or what time the baby will wake up.  While breastfeeding is very portable and easy to do almost anywhere, it is not always the right environment, like a fancy restaurant for example. Baby either needs to get fed before or after, and trust me, this timing is a tough one. I’ve learned the hard way many times, but it gets better week by week.

Another thing that has been lovely about breastfeeding is that it is a time dedicated to sitting and just feeding your baby. Nothing else. In this fast paced life, times of rest like this are hard to come by. I so enjoy laying on my bed while Nico feeds, it’s nice to take a break! Sometimes I do text and email while breastfeeding, but when I don’t, the reflective time is great. It is time you can just be with your baby and rest. It is much needed rest indeed, and I fully enjoy it. I’m so grateful for this gift I’ve been given, and that I am able to feed my baby. When I was pregnant, I was concerned my autoimmune disease would get in the way of my ability to breastfeed, and this positive experience breastfeeding has truly been a great gift.

Lately, I haven’t been looking forward to when Nico transitions to eating solid foods. I think it’s because I’m going to miss being his everything. I know it sounds silly, but I’ve been struggling thinking about the day he takes his first bite of solid food. He’s five months now, so it will actually be quite soon. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely plan to still breastfeed, I just will not be exclusively breastfeeding, and I’m going to miss it. I would love to hear your experiences, thoughts or feelings about breastfeeding! xoxox, Laurel

Photos by Elsie Dardon.

IMG_6417

Fermented Veggies \\ Sweet Laurel

Keep your belly happy and dishes brightened with Fermented Veggies!  They can be made in a snap, and require only an airtight glass jar, salt and the veggies of your choice.  You can play around with the different spices and add ins, making the veggies catered to your liking.

Fermented Veggies \\ Sweet Laurel

Fermented Veggies \\ Sweet Laurel

Fermented Veggies \\ Sweet Laurel

Fermented Veggies \\ Sweet Laurel

Fermented Veggies


 

Ingredients:

1 quart of water

2 tablespoon Himalayan pink salt

2 cups chopped cucumbers, daikon radish, asparagus or carrots

3 whole cloves of garlic

1/8 teaspoon mustard seed

1/8 teaspoon dill seed

1/8 teaspoon coriander

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 cabbage leaf


 

Directions:

Stir together salt and water. Chop peppers and carrots.

Add spices to the bottom of a one-quart jar. Add your vegetables, followed by the brine.  Cover the top of the vegetables with cabbage leaf. Cap the jar tightly and allow to sit in 65-85 degrees for about ten days.  For the first few days, check jar pressure: slightly unscrew lid to release pressure, then retighten lid.  Once fermentation is reached, store in fridge.

SaveSave

Grilled Peach Salad \\ Sweet Laurel

Summer in a bowl! This salad is so refreshing, and most importantly: simple to prepare! Enjoy this salad at your next BBQ or summertime gathering. Guaranteed crowd pleaser.

Grilled Peach Salad \\ Sweet Laurel

Grilled Peach Salad \\ Sweet Laurel

Grilled Peach Salad \\ Sweet Laurel

Grilled Peach Salad

Serves 4


 

Ingredients:

4 cups arugula

3-4 peaches, sliced

1 shallot, sliced into thin strips

1/4 cup vegan cheese, crumbled (or make your own)

Lemon dressing (recipe below)


 

Directions:

Prepare grill.

Place arugula in a large bowl. Add pecans, shallots, and cheese. Set aside while you prepare peaches.

Grill peaches about 2-3 minutes on each side.

Toss with dressing and enjoy!


 

To prepare dressing


 

Ingredients:

Juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup olive oil

1 clove of garlic

Pinch of salt

Fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions:

Place all ingredients for dressing in a small food processor or blender. Pulse for 1 minute. Dressing can be made ahead and will keep in fridge for 3-4 days.

SaveSave